Stacey Finney guest interviews Rich Kaufmann, lead singer and guitarist of Electric Love Muffin (ELM) and The Rolling Hayseeds. Rich was born in Miami, Florida where he lived during the early years of his childhood. He eventually moved to North Wales, Pennsylvania, where he attended high school and discovered some of his early influences of punk music, progressive rock, and country. After moving to Philadelphia in the early 1980s, Rich became fully immersed in the punk scene, attending and playing hardcore shows. Rich talks about his experiences of being in ELM from 1984-1990 and touring the country with his band. This included opening for the Goo Goo Dolls, Mud Honey, and Rhythm Pigs. Rich openly discusses the successes as well as the pitfalls of being in ELM and their ultimate spiraling downward which led to the band’s demise. From sleeping with venomous spiders to getting arrested in Texas, Rich tells the many strange and funny tales of life on the road. After putting out three albums with ELM, Rich went on to play in the country band, The Rolling Hayseeds. The Rolling Hayseeds put out two albums and were WXPN radio favorites for several years. Rich also did a solo album with other musicians from the Philly area which he refers to as his greatest accomplishment. On a personal level, Rich talks about practicing Buddhism and his bout with throat cancer (which is in remission) and how it affected his singing voice. He discusses his involvement with Ruin for their August 2013 reunion show, where he was one of several local musicians asked to perform a song with them. Rich was receiving treatment for cancer at this time and was still quite ill. He was, however, able to perform and shares the energy he felt from this night. Rich further provides his perspective on the decades of punk and why it has retained its allure to the youth, including his view on how his experience in the punk realm has positively influenced him as a teacher today. Rich’s personal narrative provides a colorful timeline and unique historical perspective of his trip through three decades of punk and where it has landed him today.
Photos by Stacey Finney